Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Temple Mizpah, 1923

1615 W. Morse,  Former Temple Mizpah
The former Temple Mizpah is a remnant from the neighborhood when it was home to a number of Jewish congregations.  In fact, Reform Judaism originated in Rogers Park, and this building was one of its first permanent expressions. Most of the temples have been converted into churches, and this one is no exception.  It's designed in the Byzantine style, with arched leaded glass windows which resemble tablets.  The brickwork is remarkable, but has seen better days.  And it doesn't look like the leaded glass windows are doing too well.

The building was designed by the firm of
Spitzer and Popkin, and constructed at a cost of $150,000, according to the Chicago Historic Resources Survey.

To the east of the building is  a large parking lot which had been intended to accommodate the main portion of the synagogue. For some reason only the community house was constructed.  Perhaps they intended to build it in phases but ran out of funding.  An illustration from 1922 shows how splendid it could have been.  The structure on the far right is the only one which was built. This does explain the odd termination on the east end of the facade.

Accessed through Google Books

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

1425 W. Morse, 1963

1425 W. Morse
This is one of the worst buildings that can happen to a dense neighborhood commercial district.  It's one-story tall and and the parcel is equally split between the building and parking.  I would say it's a good thing that one side of the building aligns with the sidewalk, but it basically presented a huge blank wall until some storefronts were cut into it a few years back. And it's mid-block, so you can only enter from Morse.   Cars can park right up to the fence along the sidewalk, which is massive and unfriendly.

I expect this was built as a large grocery store and was then superseded by even larger stores with more parking at at the edge of the neighborhood.  Which is really where they belong.  It looks as though this building is struggling for tenants, despite its half-hearted renovation.

This is located on what was basically four separate parcels which originally contained two single family homes and connected two-flats. Lots which don't redevelop to match the predominant density of a commercial area typically redevelop later at a higher intensity.

But even in 1963 why did this seem like a good idea?  I wouldn't be surprised to see this replaced at some point.  It's perfect for a large transit-oriented development.